Planning the launch – it’s all about the details!

The February 16th book launch of The Beggar’s Opera will have a Cuban theme, since the book (a mystery/thriller)  is set in Havana. I’ve been looking for sponsors and donations that will work with the Cuban food & music I have planned. 

Beau’s Beer, a wonderful local brewery, has kindly offered to provide us with beer.  The very personable Louis Gaal, owner of Blue Gypsy Wines , has offered to bring a whole barrel of fruit wine to the function and will do a tasting for us. (We’ll set the fruit wine up right next to the desserts and I’m sure the combination will be spectacular.)

And Denis Perrault of Domaine Perrault, a Navan winery, not only offered to contribute another six bottles of wine to complement our other food offerings but suggested I contact one of his competitors as well so that they could get a little publicity. I mean really – how great is that? If you live in or near Ottawa, please keep all these community-spirited folks in mind and pay it forward when you’re purchasing beer and wine. 

Desserts have been preoccupying my thoughts ever since I came across this photograph of an incredible 1957 Chevy cake that was created by a Winnipeg bakery (check out, and thanks, Nina, for letting me use the photograph of it!)  It’s now on my “must-have” list.

I called a local cake maker who told me it would cost $ 500 to have something like this made. (Yikes–I could probably buy a real 1957 Chevy for $ 500!) 

I’m still scouting around for someone who can duplicate this cake for a more reasonable price, but in the meantime, I managed to find a cake pan shaped like a vintage car on e-Bay and purchased it for the grand total of 0.01 USD, plus shipping.

It’s not the same — it’s more like the old cars on the cover of The Beggar’s Opera. Now I just have to teach myself how to bake!

Also on order online and not that easy to find — 200 Cuban toothpick flags, if they don’t get held up at US Customs. I’ll be using them to hold together the very tiny little Cuban sandwiches I’ll be making out of panini breadsticks (a variation of Brian French’s recipe for traditional Cuban sandwiches found on this blog under “Cuban recipes”). I’ve been testing these little sandwiches out all day — super delicious! 

They will supplement the wonderful plantain appetizers that uber-financial planner, Sylvia Manning of TD Waterhouse, has kindly offered to donate, and which will be made by Havana Cafe.  

So far, our menu will also include a number of main dishes such as pork adobo, black beans & rice, yellow rice, chickpea salad, an avocado & shrimp salad, empanadas, corn fritters, and picadillo, prepared by friends of mine. I think the food is going to be spectacular!

For dessert, we’ll hopefully have a vintage car cake (I’m nothing if not determined) as well as a rum cake, a Cuban opera cake (really, how could we resist, with The Beggar’s Opera as the book title?) and some very special gingerbread cookies. They will be shaped like the chalk outlines of dead bodies and I think they’ll be a real crowd pleaser.

After I think a book launch should be like any good party — it’s all about the details!


Check out Penguin Canada’s book trailer for The Beggar’s Opera  here! It’s pretty cool!

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2 Responses to Planning the launch – it’s all about the details!

  1. CAKE STUDIO says:

    Hi Peggy,
    This is Nina Notaro of Cake Studio ( who created the 1957 Chevy BelAir car cake. If you want me to create another one for you….you could always fly myself and the cake for your book launch party for February 16th!


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